Saturday, August 27, 2011

Storm's a'comin Pa!!

Warning:  this post might be a little whiny in spots.  Sorry,  sometimes that's just how I roll.

I guess Irene is heading our way.  We don't live on the coast thank goodness but we have issues that come up with heavy rainstorms.  Our driveway is one.  Do you remember learning about erosion in elementary school?  Well, if you want, just send your kids over here to see a live demonstration of erosion.  This is what our drive  looks like now, thanks to just a couple of heavy rains in the last couple weeks.  Imagine what will happen if we really get slammed with Irene.   I am a lousy photographer because this does not do it justice. 


This is the Grand Canyon of Maryland.  Btw, did you know there is a 'Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania'?  There is and if you take a road trip there,  make sure you also check out Clyde Peeling's Reptile Land.  Kids love it.
Ok, back on topic.  The deepest parts of this crevasse are probably more than a foot deep.  Definitely not friendly to tires.  And we are a family of a few small cars.  It's a challenge to get up this hell hill without bending an axle.
 As you can see, there are trees on one side and a fence on the other.  Makes it tricky to go around the bad spots. 
I have an awesome big brother who very kindly pops over every now and then with his skidloader and pushes all the gravel back where it belongs and we are happy for a couple months before................

 This is the drive above the bad part.   I think this is part of the problem because of all the runnoff that picks of speed on this straightaway before hitting the hill.  Our plan is a couple of speed bumps here to slow the water down and even divert it.  Until we get that done, we are going to use some sandbags.  My sister-in-law suggested that yesterday and we are ready to give it a try.  Mr. 9patch stocked up on some bags of sand yesterday.  Cross your fingers for us.
Today while we wait for Irene,  I am getting all the laundry done.  If there is a widespread power outage around here, we are always the last to get power  back on.  No power equals no water when you live in the sticks and have a well.  In the last 10 years we have twice lost power for days, once for 6 days and once for 4. Honestly folks,  I can tolerate just about anything as long as I can have a cup of coffee and a shower in the morning.  One time when we lost power, I got in the car and drove 2 miles to a convenience store to find out that they had no power either.  So I turned around and went 4 miles the other way to a Burger King - no power there either.  Five more miles to a McDonalds where I got to wait in line and listen to city folks complain about not having power for FOUR whole hours.  Yes, I confess I was a little bitter.
 We have a generator now and we have it set up to plug into the house so we can have the basics like the water pump and a refrigerator and a light or two.  We haven't used it that way yet so I sure hope it works.  The gas cans are lined up next to the generator, our cell phones, MP3 players,  and computers are charged, candles and lighters are at the ready.  Bring it on!!
What do you do to get ready for a big storm?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Kitty Cocktails

 There's a little bit of excitement down on the purple couch.  Look at them, putting their feet on the furniture and acting silly.  Wanna know what has them worked up?
 It must have something to do with the fact that I decided to cut into a certain fabric and start a new quilt.
 Kitty cocktails!  The Purple Couch Cats (and elephant) really like this fabric.

 It makes them want to have a party.

 When I went to New York recently and bought this fabric at City Quilter,  my friend and I were inspired by a quilt they had on the wall.  It was the perfect quilt for this fabric and any other that has a large fun print.  Here is the process that I used to make a quilt in a similar style.

First, I got out some graph paper and made an outline for the quilt. 
Second,  I eyeballed it and outlined 3 random large squares.  These will be the large blocks from the cocktail fabric.

 Check this out!  I was feeling artistic.

Next, I just drew lines to make random blocks of different sizes.
I used a pencil so I could make changes until it looked acceptable to me.

Ta dah!  I decided this was worth keeping.

Now comes the math.  I decided that each square on the graph would equal one and a half inches.  Block by block I counted squares and determined the size of the block.  Then I added one half inch to the length and width to get the sizes to cut.

I raided my stash for fabrics that coordinated with my focus blocks and I cut the blocks.  It was RANDOM!

I pinned my little master pattern up and put it all together on the design wall.  I scribbled and scratched all over the pattern as I cut the blocks to make sure I got all of them done.

And here it is.  Hmm?  Something isn't quite right.  Oops, I reviewed the master and found a mistake.  The top focus block is supposed to be square, lol.  Easy fix. 

We had an earthquake here on the east coast today.  Craziness!  I woke up to glorious weather.  I announced to my son and my mother that I am going to move.  That's right, as soon as I find a magical land where the weather is like this every single day, I'm out of here!  I was in the sewing room putting this top together, the windows were open, the breeze was coming in, and I had music on.  Outside I could hear a chainsaw nearby, somebody working.  And then............everything started shaking like crazy.  At first I thought it was a tree hitting the ground (from the chainsaw), but the shaking got worse so I thought a big tree must have hit the house.  But goodness, the floor was rolling back and forth and at the same time it sounded like something gigantic was clamoring across the roof.  My son was outside in the gazebo by the pool.  He first thought the gazebo was uneven, like a chair with a short leg, because it was rocking.  Then he saw the pool and the water was surging back and forth.  No aftershocks so far.  Let's hope this is the last of the excitement, I am happy to keep it an isolated incident to tell my grandchildren about. 
Anyway,  I finished sewing this top together while watching CNN and getting the scoop.  If you have ever shied away from Y seams, don't.  No big deal. See! 
  I have to confess that I had planned to frame each of the focus blocks with skinny strips of a contrasting fabric but I completely forgot.  Oh well.

Don't worry, I have plans to put some borders on to jazz this up a little. As soon as I decide on fabric and design.  Ugh, me and borders, a difficult relationship.

Now, since I haven't posted in a while, I want to show you that I did get another quilt done.  Another baby quilt with tumbler blocks.  I did some straight line quilting in the body of it but free motioned on the border.

Can you see where I stitched Baby Boy?   This will probably be for a co-worker.  Her shower is next month and she's having a boy.  No sooner do I finish one then it's headed out the door.  Sigh,  so hard to get ahead with the finishes but I'm still going to try. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A finish and fabrics.

I finally finished the quilt I made for the Modern Quilt Guild Kaufman kona cotton challenge.   The Baltimore Modern Quilt Guild set minimal guidelines, we had to use at least some of each charm square and we could only use solids for the projects.  I happened to have another charm pack so I used both and I also used my scraps in the border.  Let's not revisit the borders ok.  I already posted about that mess, bleh.  

 Since this quilt is baby sized, I didn't want to quilt it too densely, I want it to be soft.  I decided to just stitch gentle waves across the top.  I just stitched pairs of lines and  did it without any plan.  And I like it!! 

You can see it a little better on the back.  I used a multi-colored variegated thread.

Now that I've been home for several days,  the Purple Couch Gang were getting impatient to see the fabrics I brought home with me.  They were getting downright surly so we held a little photo shoot today.  You might think this delicious goldy  yellow is dots but look close, they are shaped like little teardrops.  Cute!

Something has happened to me and I'm going to blame it on the hoedown fabric.  I found myself unable to resist these nutty novelty fabrics.  It's partly the words and phrases and partly because every time I look I see something new.  Chris and I saw a quilt sample at the City Quilter that's a perfect design for fabrics like this.  I'll let you know when I give it a try.  This fabric is for 'damsels' on picking a husband.

Here's a nutty Halloween type print called Ghastlies.  It's hilarious, you really have to keep looking at every inch of it. 

I grew up reading The Adams Family books that my grandmother always had out.  Seriously, look at that little girl's face and tell me those eyes don't scream Adam's Family to you. 

Kitty cocktails.  'nuff said.

 And here is a pile of goodies.  There was a silent auction at the Saturday event at FIT and I won a colorful fat quarter stack.  Thirty nine FQ's AND two half yard panels!!  Yeehaw!

The panels look like this, pictures from fairy tales.   

And there are several of this coordinating print with different background colors.  Won't these come in handy for another batch of baby quilts.

And check this out - two prints in one FQ.  I have 3 of these.

Between 3 and 6 of each of these.   A fun ticket print, something that looks like pez, argyle (love that!), and a wild floral.

A more sedate floral, kind of a retro dot, and some shirting prints in a few different colors.

AND......... there's even more to show off.  Both of the events we went to had goodie bags for us.  Among other fun things, they had a charm pack with 2 coordinating fat quarters packaged up with a pattern.  I got the same fabrics both days which thrilled me.  THEN, my awesome friend Chris got one with the same fabric and gave it to me.  I said, "Oh no, I can't."  But she insisted, said it was her thank you for the weekend.  So I said, "Ooooooh, okay."

As we sat at FIT waiting for Jay and Marianne to hit the runway, I opened up my charms and started looking through the fabrics. Oh my goodness, check out the pale greens! I was going on about how much I loved those greens and another lady sitting there heard me. She showed me that she got  two of the greens for her fat quarters, and asked if I wanted to make a trade.  Wellllll  yeah!!  So I let her pick from my FQ pairs and she gave me these lovelies.   The green is a lot better in person.  I just couldn't get a good representation.   And one of the coolest things is that many of these fabrics have words and letters on them!  I'm in heaven. 

I hope I didn't make you too jealous.  I will now go back to my regular blogging and stop gushing about my adventures.  If it makes anyone feel better,  I still haven't found that durn stepstool.  Grrrrr.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Saturday afternoon at the Fashion Institute of Technology

The second part of my NYC adventure was the afternoon event at F.I.T.   What a great presentation of quilt personalities.  We got to hear Mary Fons (daughter of Marianne) talk about how she fought against becoming a quilter until she hit age thirty. She could be a successful stand up comedienne.  She now has an online show called Quilty which is on QNN TV, an online network.  She is wildly entertaining and I can't wait to check out her show.

We got to enjoy seeing and hearing Mary and Marianne together.  A great pair!

 Next up was Mark Lipinski.  He is a HOOT!!  If you ever get a chance to hear him speak, do it. 

And Jay McCarroll!  You already know I have a case of hero worship when it comes to Jay.  Honest, I was rooting for him from the beginning of his season on Project Runway.  And when he showed his final clothing line and there was a cool quilted coat with quilt patches on it, I knew he had to win.

 Jay was interviewed by Mark  for the SOS initiative of the Alliance of American Quilts.  A very fun and entertaining interview. 

We also got a wonderful sneak peak at Jay's newest clothing line.  I really love it, so colorful and patchworky.  Those little monochromatic dresses were adorable and just look at the gorgeous skirt in green silks  that Victoria has on.

Photography is not my strength but that skirt is so darn beautiful and it really suited  Victoria.  It was all silky and had great big pockets!

And then.............. I got to have a few minutes with Mark Lipinsky and Jodie Davis!   I really didn't have a chance to get nervous, not with that pair.  They really put me at ease and the interview was over before I knew it.  Right here, Jodie is laughing because Mark asked me if I ever quilt in the nude.  I told him that it was more likely that I would be swimming in the nude, lol.

I got a chance to talk about Olivia's summer list and how fun it was to make letters and words.

I was supposed to present a 'touchstone' quilt of mine and hopefully I got that across.  I'm not sure but at any rate, we (I) had fun.  Afterwards my hands were shaking for about half an hour. 

There was a silent auction to benefit the Alliance.  Tomorrow I'll show you the fat quarter stack I 'won' and the other goodies that came home with me.  My sewing mojo is going to have lots to play with this fall.  G'nite!

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Wow!  I do NOT know where to start.  I just had a crazy, fun, whirlwind two days in New York City.  Weeks ago I read about some events in New York to benefit the Alliance for American Quilts and I was intrigued.  I couldn't resist a chance to spend an evening at Victoria Findlay-Wolfe's loft listening to a panel of famous quilters talk about modern quilting moderated by Jackie Kunkel.
And more fun the next day at the Fashion Institute of Technology.  There is almost no end to the name dropping I could do.  I originally bought tickets for myself and my daughter because I knew she (not a quilter) would love to see (maybe meet) Jay McCarroll.  Sadly, Olivia has been laid low by mononucleosis so I was lucky enough to be joined by a great quilty pal of mine, Chris. We had a blast and this was the view from our hotel room.  I can't tell you how beautiful this was at night all lit up.

Friday night we had fun at Victoria's.  I was so excited to see her 2009 Kitchen Sink quilt in person.  Victoria is beautiful and gracious as well as incredibly creative and talented.  She is so sweet and there is no excuse for how tongue-tied I get when I'm around her.  Sometimes I just get a little shy (hard to believe, right?).   So, let me tell you one of my little adventures with Chris.  The night before I left, I carefully wrote down all of the addresses we would need and packed them with my NYC maps.  We took the Megabus to the city, dropped our bags at the hotel and then snagged some lunch and trotted over to the City Quilter. (more on that shopping trip later, I have lots of goodies to show).  We checked into our room and took a little rest before getting ready for the evening.  As we headed for the loft, Chris asked me if I was sure of the time.  Uh, yeah, it's 6 to 10pm.  Well, I was sure until she asked.  So I pulled out my little green notebook with the addresses to check.  No times written, bleh.  Let me add that Chris and I must be the only girls left on the planet without internet access from our phones.  No iPad either and I didn't take my laptop for the trip either.  Soooo,  I said I was pretty sure but that I hate hate hate being too early or the first person somewhere.  Guess where this is going?  We found the address, got buzzed into the lobby, and hopped into the elevator.  As it headed up we saw a little post-it about the event with the times on it, 7 to 10 pm.  SEVEN!  Yikes!  Then the elevator door opened and we were looking right into the loft.  I spazzed out, shrank against the wall desparately pushing the button to go back down, lol.  No one saw us (unless there is a camera to let them know who they are buzzing in) and we took off around the corner.  We killed time with a few drinks then headed back at a more appropriate time.  The drinks gave me the nerve to fess up to Victoria that it was us who 'buzzed, spazzed, and ran'.  Thank goodness she is better behaved than the New York Housewives.  Can you imagine what the Countess would have had to say to me?  'Dahling, a lady with class simply does NOT spaz.'

  I do NOT like to dress up. My idea of a perfect life would be jeans every single day, with a PJ day here and there. Anyway, I didn't know what I was wearing until the last minute and I was a little nervous about it.  At the last minute I had thrown this dress into my suitcase.  I bought it for my daughter a few years ago but she never wore it, it even still had the tags on.  Chris loved it and encouraged me to wear it so I did.  Late in the evening, I found myself sitting just a few feet away from Jay McCarroll.   Eeeeeee, I was so excited and I worked up my nerve to ask him for a picture.  He said sure but I had to get in it too.  Well, gee Jay, twist my arm.  Chris got this picture for me and as I was going back to me seat, Jay said,  'I like your dress.'   I'm not kidding people, I do not lie.  Jay McCarroll, winner of the first season of Project Runway, a FASHION design contest full of famous fashion people,  liked MY dress.  Me, who hates to get dressed up and is insecure when I do, got it right for an evening in the Fashion District in New York City.  Please............pinch me.  Jay really is a great guy, funny and not full of himself.  I wish I had had my wits about me enough to tell him how much I like his fabric lines, all of them.  I even had some Habitat fabric and a pigma pen so I could get him to sign it.  But, again I spazzed, and I completely forgot.  waah.  I have some pictures of his newest fashion line, it's awesome.  I share tomorrow, promise.

I promise, there is much much more to share about my weekend.  Lots more pictures, excitement, and names to drop. 
We only took one cab ride, on the way to the loft on Friday evening, I was wearing prissy shoes (which you can see in the above picture that I took off when I got there).  Below is what happened when I walked back to the hotel in my prissy shoes.

 Poor little tootsie.